LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 26, 2004) – Matt Plumb, of Newport, R.I., earned his first-career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car win from the pole today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but it wasn’t anything easy on the technically challenging road course. Sweden’s Nic Jonsson and Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., completed the top three.
Starting from the pole, Plumb didn’t quite get the start he had expected. Jonsson, who had started on the outside of row one, got an excellent jump at the start and led the first 15 laps. On lap 16, Jonsson had some temporary engine problems that allowed Plumb to pass him in turn seven to hold on for the win. Driving the No. 43 RealTime Racing/SANZ/Sun Microsystem Acura TSX, Plumb won by 2.269-seconds at a record average speed of 84.172 mph on the 2.258-mile circuit.
“At the start of the race, he [Jonsson] got such a nice jump and had a pretty good gap,” Plumb said of the start. “I was doing everything in my power to try to stay with him. He was pushing very, very hard. So, I tried my best to keep my calm and not let him [Jonsson] get too far away. But, when Nic had his problem he was kind enough to give me a little room to get by.”
“We had some electronic glitch or something,” Jonsson said describing why Plumb was able to get by him. “The engine just cut out for about three or four seconds. I had to recycle the fuel pump and the ignition and luckily it came back on. Luckily enough it was just Matt that was able to get by, because Bill and P.D. [Cunningham] were right there. It felt like we were five wide at one time. But, it worked out okay. I was able to get back up running and I tried to put as much pressure as possible on Matt.”
Plumb’s start from the pole and his win were both firsts for the Acura TSX in SPEED Touring Car competition.
Despite engine troubles, Jonsson turned in a solid second place performance for the second straight race, while setting a new fast race lap record of 1:35.838 (84.818 mph) in his No. 27 Lectric Air/Tecmark Corporation BMW 325Ci.
Cunningham, who started third in his No. 4 Nissan/NISMO/TeamRTR Nissan Sentra SE-R, dropped to fourth early in the race and spent most of the race battling SPEED Touring Car point leader Bill Auberlen (who was running third at the time) and former teammate Brazilian Pierre Kleinubing (who was running fifth) for position. On lap 22, with lapped traffic in front of them heading into turn six, Cunningham out braked Auberlen heading into the turn and was able to slip by holding on for his second third place finish of 2004.
“At the end of the back straight, traffic played a little bit of a factor,” Cunningham said of his pass on Auberlen for third. “I think Bill thought he would have to fall in behind [the lapped traffic], so I just stuffed it in there and made it stick. The Sentra was very consistent the whole time. The NISMO handling was fantastic and we just went to the end.”
Gunning for his fourth consecutive SPEED Touring Car win, dating back to the last race of the 2003 season (Puerto Rico), Auberlen, of Rolling Hills, Calif., brought his No. 1 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i home in fourth, while Kleinubing was fifth in his No. 42 A-SPEC/Real Time Racing Acura TSX.
Fred Pignataro, of East Northport, N.Y., won the B&M Holeshot award for advancing seven positions on the first lap of the race. Peter Schwartzott, of Freeville, N.Y., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 15 positions throughout the race.
Auberlen leads the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship with 92 points, followed by Jonsson (78 points), Matt Plumb (73), Cunningham (64) and Justin Marks (62).
BMW leads the SPEED Touring Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 25 points, followed by Acura (18), Nissan (10) and Mazda (five).
The series next heads to the Infineon Raceway July 16-18 for Rounds Four and Five of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship.
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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